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Access to Research initiative reports high take up in first half year

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The Access to Research initiative, which launched in the UK six months ago, now includes 163 local authorities - 80 per cent of the local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales.

The initiative gives the public in participating public libraries free access to more than 10 million scholarly articles. So far, over 14,500 individual users have used the service and usage is expected to increase even further during the remainder of the two year pilot.

So far, users have been searching for terms as diverse as WW1, zombie ants, Hello Kitty, Geomorphology and applied economics, and initial user feedback has been positive, report the libraries involved.

Access to Research was launched in response to a key recommendation of the Finch Group, a committee convened by the Government to explore how access to publicly funded research could be expanded. The Finch Group recommended that the major journal publishers should grant public libraries a licence to provide free access to their academic articles. Access to Research is the result of a collaboration between librarians and publishers, who have made their journal content available for free to UK libraries. The content is searchable through the Summon discovery service, provided free of charge by ProQuest.

The implementation group, led by the Publishers Licensing Society, is gathering both quantitative and qualitative data during the two year pilot. These findings will be used to assess effectiveness of the service and to inform future delivery.